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Pete Buttigieg says blaming doorways for school shootings is ‘insanity’

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks during a news conference at the White House on May 16. (Al Drago/Bloomberg News)

The May 24 massacre in an Uvalde, Tex., elementary school thrust the nation into collective shock and grief, only to be followed by a spate of deadly shootings. The unrelenting bloodshed has renewed a push for broader gun control, but some lawmakers have focused their calls on improving school infrastructure — something Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg decried Sunday.

“The idea that us being the only developed country where this happens routinely — especially in terms of the mass shootings — is somehow a result of the design of the doorways on our school buildings is the definition of insanity, if not the definition of denial,” Buttigieg said Sunday during an interview with “This Week” on ABC.

Following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School, a number of Republican lawmakers slammed the politicization of gun rights, instead arguing that future gunmen could be stopped by posting more security guards and locking all but one door at schools.

Uvalde mayor recounts frantic attempt to call shooter during massacre

“Have one door into and out of the school and have that one door, armed police officers at that door,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said May 25 during an interview with Fox News’s Jesse Watters. “If that had happened … when that psychopath arrived, the armed police officers could have taken him out and we would have 19 children and two teachers still alive.”

Cruz also called for the installation of bulletproof doors and glass to help prevent shootings. His appeal for a single entry point at schools was echoed by Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and former president Donald Trump, who said “schools should be the single hardest target in our country” during his speech at a National Rifle Association convention in Houston days after the attack.

State and local lawmakers on both sides of the aisle commented on the events surrounding a mass school shooting in Uvalde, Tex., on May 24. (Video: Adriana Usero/The Washington Post)

In the wake of one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) wrote a letter to Mike Morath, the commissioner of the Texas Education Agency, asking for the implementation of “heightened safety measures” in schools, including “weekly inspections of exterior doors to verify they are secure during school hours.” Last week, Abbott also called on the state’s legislature to address topics such as school safety, mental health and firearm safety through “special legislative committees,” The Washington Post reported.

Republicans’ focus on hardening entry points in schools follows an ongoing investigation into the attack in Uvalde, where doors have taken center stage, the Associated Press reported. Police have offered different accounts about how the shooting played out, at first saying the gunman had entered the school through a back door propped open by a teacher and later stating the door had not properly locked after the teacher closed it.

There have been over 200 mass shootings so far in 2022

Since the school shooting in Texas, there have been at least 33 other mass shootings — defined as those in which at least four victims are injured or killed — in the United States, including more than a dozen over Memorial Day weekend. On Saturday and Sunday, shootings killed at least 10 people in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Michigan and South Carolina. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there hasn’t been a single week in the United States without a mass shooting so far this year.

The “horrific scourge of gun violence in this country,” Buttigieg said Sunday, has shaken up cities, where mayors are “taking the steps that you can locally” to reduce violence. Yet there’s only so much they can do without federal action, he added.

“You’re also looking at Washington to say, ‘Will anything be different this time?’ ” said Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind. “Will we actually acknowledge the reasons why we are the only country, the only developed country, where this happens on a routine basis?”

Congress is preparing to take up gun-control legislation, with talks in the Senate being led by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). While the lawmakers are working on a proposal to encourage states to implement red-flag laws to keep guns out of the hands of people deemed to be a threat to themselves or others, the plans would probably not include renewing the federal assault weapons ban or significantly expanding federal background checks, as President Biden has called for, The Post previously reported.